Festive Pull Apart Bread (Traditional Bulgarian Pitka)
I grew up eating this festive pull apart bread. It is a traditional Bulgarian bread called “pitka.” We prepare it for the happiest occasions. You can’t have a wedding, birthday or Christmas without it. The crust of the bread is flaky and buttery, and the inside is so fluffy. When you pull apart the bread it looks like it has threads inside. I prepare this bread every time we have special occasions or gatherings with friends and family. I always get so many compliments for it, and everyone is asking me for the recipe. There are a few similar recipes on my website. They use similar ingredients and method of preparation but a different shaping of the dough.
Why should you make the Festive Pull Apart Bread
If you want to try the most delicious bread you have ever tasted, you should make this recipe. The dough for this bread is rich because it contains milk, eggs and butter. The only thing that is different is the way the bread looks. Everyone has a preferred way of shaping the dough. The main idea is for the bred to be beautiful and to taste rich. There are already few similar recipes on my website. Check out the links at the bottom of the blog post.
This recipe might look challenging but the hardest thing in it is waiting. You have to be patient because the dough needs to proof twice. You need to make the dough and proof it once. Then shape it and proof again. This definitely takes time. There are some essential things you should know about making dough. That is why I explained every step very detailed.
Helpful Tips About Making The Dough
How to measure flour? Always scoop more flour than you need in your cup and use a knife to level it off. If you have a scale, use it, because measuring ingredients by weigh is always more accurate. One cup of flour contains exactly 4 oz or 120 grams of all-purpose flour.
Use slightly warm milk for the dough. I warm mine in the microwave for a minute before I add it to the rest of the ingredients. This will help with yeast activation and proofing.
When you make the dough, you might need more or less flour. It depends on the type and the brand of flour that you use. I recommend using bread flour for this recipe since it is higher on gluten.
It is very important to add the flour gradually until you have soft and stretchy dough. If it is sticking to your hands and you cannot form it to a ball, then you need more flour.
I use two eggs for this recipe. I separate one egg and I use the egg yolk for egg wash. Then I add one whole egg and one egg white to the dough.
Keep the salt away from the yeast! I always add the salt after I added at least one cup of flour. I never sprinkle salt directly over the yeast. This is very important because salt kills yeast, which can stop the fermentation process and the dough won’t rise.
Proofing And Baking The Festive Pull Apart Bread
In this recipe you need to proof the dough two times. The first time is after you make the dough. I usually proof for 45 to 60 minutes directly in the mixing bowl. I cover the bowl with a towel or a plastic wrap.
The second proof is after you shape the bread. You can proof the dough in the oven or outside. When I proof in the oven, I start to preheat it until it reaches 110F and then turn it off. I place the shaped dough inside and keep the door closed for 30 minutes. This will keep it away from drafts and keep the temperature constant. If you decide to proof outside of the oven, keep the dough in a warm place. Cover it with a clean towel or plastic wrap.
Baking time might be different depending on the oven or altitude. I usually check my bread after 20 minutes of baking. This bread takes about 30 minutes to be ready.
Measuring spoons and cups are essential for any baking recipe.
You can use a stand mixer like this one, or knead the dough by hand.
You are going to need a rolling pin for this recipe. If you don’t have one you can use a glass bottle.
I use a silicon brush to add egg wash on top of the shaped dough.
I use a round, 10 -inch pan to bake this bread.
You also need oven mitts to protect your hands from the high temperatures and the hot oven.
Finally, you are going to need some cooling racks to prevent the bread from soggy bottom after baking.
Please note: these links are not affiliated with anyone. These are just products that I have, use and love. Using the links will not benefit me in any way.
Festive Pull Apart Bread
- Rolling Pin, stand mixer, 10-inch round pan
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup lukewarm whole milk plus one tablespoon for the egg wash
- ½ cup water lukewarm
- 1 Tbsp active dry yeast
- 1 tsp sugar
- 3-4 cups flour I used organic flour from Costco
- 1 tsp salt
- ¼ cup unsalted butter at room temperature, softened
- more flour for rolling
To prepare the dough
- Remove the butter out of the refrigerator. Crack one egg open and separate the egg yolk from the egg white. Put the egg white in the bowl of the stand mixer (or your mixing bowl) and the egg yolk in a small bowl.
- Add a tablespoon of milk to the egg yolk in the small bowl and stir it well. Cover and set aside. This will be your egg wash.
- Break and add the other egg into the mixing bowl.
- To the mixing bowl add the milk, yogurt, water, sugar, yeast, two cups of flour and the salt. Start mixing on the lowest possible speed until you have a wet dough. If you don't have a mixer, use a large spoon to stir until you have a sticky dough.
- Gradually add the rest of the flour and continue mixing until you have a soft and stretchy dough. If you are making the dough by hand, transfer it on a floured surface and knead.
- Once all the flour is incorporated and you have dough that doesn’t stick to the sides increase the speed of mixing and knead for at least 5 minutes.
- Remove the dough attachment and cover the dough with a towel or plastic wrap and leave it for an hour to proof.
To shape the dough
- Once the dough has doubled its size transfer it on a floured surface and cut in four equal parts.
- Roll each piece of dough to a rectangle (about 12x 6 inches).
- Spread half of the softened butter on one rectangle. Then stack another rectangle on top.
- Repeat the same with the other two rectangles.
- Grease the bottom and the sides of a 10-inch round pan with melted butter.
- Cut a strip from the long side of the stacked dough rectangles. The strip should be about an inch thick. Then twist it like a rope and form a spiral.
- Place the dough spiral in the baking pan and repeat the steps of cutting strips, twisting them like a rope and make spirals.
- Once the pan is full brush the dough with egg wash and proof for 30 minutes in a warm place away from drafts. I like to prof it in a slightly warm oven (110F).
- Once the shaped dough is double in size bake at 355F for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown.
- Cool off for 5 minutes in the pan and then transfer the bread on a cooling rack.